ST. LOUIS WORK INJURY ATTORNEYS

If you were injured on the job, you may have a claim for money damages. This claim could be workers’ compensation, but it could also be something more. If you were injured by a defective product or a toxic substance, you could have a claim against the manufacturer. If you were injured by a co-worker’s actions, depending on the circumstances, it is possible you could have a civil claim (ability to file a lawsuit).

Some workers choose to handle their workers’ compensation claim on their own. That usually works fine, because the workers’ compensation law is designed to be a formula that awards damages based on a simple “meat chart” of the human body. But that becomes more and more difficult the more severe or complicated your injury becomes. When the injuries are bad enough, the employer will hire a physician to do an independent medical examination (IME). The problem is that the employer is hiring the IME doctor. So you will rarely see an IME paid for by an employer that does not understate the extent of the injuries—so IMEs are not actually “independent.” Because the “meat chart” is based on percentages of disability assigned by the “independent” doctor, you will get lowballed in your serious workers’ compensation injury if you do not have an attorney to push back.

Another reason to hire a workers’ compensation attorney is that there may be other claims associated with your work comp claim. Fired for claiming workers’ compensation? You could have a retaliation claim. Injured by the gross negligence of a co-worker or supervisor? You may have a co-employee liability case. Holding on to some dirt about the company because you wanted to keep your job? You may want to consider a whistleblower case. The experienced attorneys at Keane Law LLC can help you navigate these difficult waters. If we do not think we can help you maximize your recovery for a work-related matter, we will tell you straight up. We will only take your case if we believe we can help you.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Injuries on the job can be both physically and economically challenging for the worker and his/her family. If an employee gets hurt on the job, the worker may have to take off time from work, potentially risking the financial ability to make ends meet. In some instances, an employee may be injured to the extent that he or she may never be able to work again. An attorney can help you navigate this complicated field to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Employees injured on the job are entitled to both disability and medical benefits according to Missouri law. The family of the worker is also entitled to those same benefits if the worker died as a result of the injuries. The benefit amount depends on the location of the injury, the duration or expected duration of the injury, and whether the injury has resulted in temporary or total disability.

An employer may try to dispute the severity of the injury, the length of time a worker is entitled to receive compensation, whether an injury is permanent or temporary, and whether the injury is the fault of the worker or employer. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who is familiar with the law is essential the worker and/or worker’s family to receive the positive outcome desired.

Legal action for worker’s compensation does have time limits, so it is important for the worker or worker’s family to contact an attorney as quickly as possible to ensure that the matter is resolved efficiently. A workers’ compensation attorney will help ensure the worker receives all of the compensation entitled under the law, or assist the victim’s family collect the benefits deserved following the death of the loved one on the job.

Workplace Accidents

Workers’ compensation laws first developed as a tradeoff intended to benefit both employers and employees: Injured workers agreed to waive their right to sue employers for negligence and companies agreed to provide a certain amount of lost wages and medical benefits through what was originally known as workmen’s compensation insurance. Today, employees and their families are entitled to make claims for injuries sustained in the workplace.

There is a vast variety of injuries and occupational diseases are covered by worker by compensation, but the most common include:

  • Being struck by an object (e.g., walking into a door)
  • Being struck by a falling object such as a tool
  • Overexertion caused by excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing
  • Falling to a lower level
  • Falling on the same level
  • Highway accidents
  • Injuries sustained while bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, slipping, or tripping without falling
  • Injuries caused when a worker is caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
  • Repetitive-motion injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Workplace violence

St Louis Work Injury Attorney

How to Make a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Claim

The benefits offered to Missouri workers through the workers’ compensation system can help bridge periods when the injury leaves the worker unable to work, provide coverage for medical expenses or even aid grieving family make ends meet after an employee is killed on the job. In order to receive these benefits though, an injured employee must file a claim.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Under Missouri law, the injured worker must immediately notify his or her employer of the injury. A worker who fails to notify the employer within 30 days of an injury may not be able to obtain benefits. The employer notification should:

  • Be submitted in writing
  • Provide the name and address of the injured employee
  • State the date, time and place of injury
  • Describe the nature of the injury

Once the worker has reported the injury to his or her employer, the worker may also file a claim with the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation. While it is not required under Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws to file a claim in order to receive benefits, filing a claim with an experienced attorney ensure the employer and insurance carrier will provide nothing less than the full amount of coverage which you are due.

Time Limit for Filing Missouri Compensation Claim

In Missouri the time limit for filing a worker compensation claim with the Division of Workers’ Compensation is two years after the injury or death or two years after the last payment was made by the employer or insurance carrier for the worker as a result of the injury or death.

The time limit is three years after the death or injury or the last payment was made if the employer does not timely file a report of injury with the division.

Missouri Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits

It is no one’s wish to become injured on the job, nor is it no one’s wish to become permanently disabled as a result of a work-related accident. Unfortunately, permanent injuries which leave a worker permanently disabled do occur. A common example of this occurring is an injury that requires an amputation. When this happens, the employer is eligible for permanent partial disability benefits or permanent total disability benefits.

Permanent Disability and Work-Related Injuries

If a worker is still disabled after medical treatment for injuries sustained on the job, permanent benefits may be awarded.

Permanent partial disability: An employee who is able to work after treatment for a work-related injury but unable to return to his or her previous job may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits. The worker is entitled to 66 2/3 percent of his or her average weekly wages, not to exceed a statutory cap. The employee may also negotiate a lump-sum settlement.

Permanent total disability: A worker who is no longer able to work after reaching maximum medical improvement is eligible for permanent total disability benefits. The worker is entitled to 66 2/3 percent of his or her average weekly wages for a lifetime. The worker may also negotiate a lump-sum settlement. This benefit is also subject to a statutory maximum cap.

Car Accidents While at Work

When is a car accident victim eligible for worker compensation benefits? According to insurance company Liberty Mutual, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of disabling injuries on the job. People who must drive as part of their employment may be eligible for worker compensation benefits if they are injured as a result.

Job Duties and Worker Compensation Coverage

Typically, an individual involved in a vehicle accident while driving to and from work is not covered by worker compensation. However, if an accident occurs while the worker is carrying out his or her job duties, he or she may be eligible for benefits.

Examples of driving employees to whom worker compensation may apply includes but is not limited to:

  • Truck drivers
  • Salespeople who travel
  • Delivery drivers
  • People who drive a company-owned vehicle
  • Employees who carry out errands such as making bank deposits

The so-called coming-and-going rule prohibiting worker compensation coverage for employees driving to and from work has exceptions. One such example includes Snowbarger v. Tri-County Electric Cooperative, et al., where the Missouri Supreme Court applied a “special hazard” exception to the coming-and-going rule. In this case, Mitchell Snowbarger, then working for Tri-County Electric Cooperative, worked 86 hours in a 100.5-hour period due to an ice storm. He fell asleep while driving home from work and was killed in a crash.
The Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission awarded worker compensation survivor benefits to Snowbarger’s family. The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed this decision. The court held that the employee’s physical exhaustion—the result of his long work hours—put him at unusual risk for a car accident.

Medical Expenses and Missouri’s Workers’ Compensation

An employee who is injured on the job is entitled to full coverage of the associated medical bills. While the laws seem pretty straightforward, there are ways in which the employer or insurance company may try to reduce the amount of its financial responsibility or avoid it altogether. Missouri workers’ compensation laws have been established to hold employers responsible for those injuries sustained by employees while on the job.

Medical Expense Coverage

Missouri law requires employers to cover authorized medical bills, prescriptions and medical devices used to treat work injuries and occupational diseases, costs of care. In addition, the law prohibits employers from charging employees a deductible.

The law allows the employer, not the employee, to choose the healthcare provider, physician or hospital. However, if an employee is required to travel outside the local or metropolitan area where the employer’s principle place of business is located to receive treatment, the employer must pay the reasonable and necessary expenses acquired because of travel.

Unfortunately, employers may use tactics to deny or limit the amount of benefits or workers’ compensation coverage. These tactics may include:

  • The employer or employer’s insurance company arguing that the injury was a result of a preexisting condition.
  • The employer or insurance company may claim that your injury is not related to your work.
  • The employer or insurance company may argue that treatments or specialist care are not necessary for the injury and may withhold the medical authorizations.
  • The employer may declare the injury from employment has reached “maximum medical improvement” and that further treatment will not help the worker. The employer may also declare that you have not complied with medical treatment directives or have abandoned your medical treatment efforts.

Lost Wage Benefits and Missouri Workers’ Compensation

A worker injured on the job may need time off from work to recover. A worker who is hurt may be required to take a lighter-duty position due to the injury. The Missouri workers’ compensation system ensures the worker receives some compensation for wages lost as a result of the forced demotion.

Temporary Benefits for Lost Wages

There are two types of temporary benefits available in Missouri to replace wages lost as a result of on-the-job injury.

Temporary total disability benefits: If a worker is injured and unable to return to the job temporarily, or surgery or another medical procedure keeps the worker off the job, temporary total disability will cover 66 2/3 percent of the worker’s average gross weekly wages up to a statutory maximum cap.

Temporary partial disability benefits: Sometimes, after a worker is injured on the job, the employee is cleared to return to work as long as the job is modified or the worker is assigned to a lighter-duty task. For example, if a roofer breaks his or her leg, her or she may be allowed to return to work in a clerical position until the fracture heals. If the modified job pays less than the original one, the worker is eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. The employee is entitled to 66 2/3 percent of the difference between the average gross weekly wages earned before the accident and what a reasonably diligent employee would earn after the accident, up to a statutory maximum cap.

Both temporary total and partial disability benefits terminate when the worker is cleared to return to work or a physician declares maximum medical improvement has been reached.

Construction Worker Injuries and Illnesses in Missouri

Carpenters, masons, plumbers, ironworkers, roofers, and electricians are only a few of the skilled tradesmen and women working in the construction industry. Their work is vital; however, their jobs are also some of the most dangerous in the United States. A construction worker who is injured on the job is entitled to worker compensation benefits under Missouri law. The family of a worker who dies in a construction-related accident is also eligible for death benefits.

Construction Accidents and Injuries

The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health funded a study by the Center for Construction Research and Training titled, “Lifetime Risks of Occupational Injuries & Illnesses among Construction Workers.” The authors determined:

  • A construction worker with a 45-year career in the industry has a 1-in-200 chance of dying of a work-related injury.
  • A construction worker with a 45-year career in the industry who does not die of a work-related injury still has a 75 percent chance of experiencing lost-time injuries over this career span.
  • A 20-year-old construction worker who survives to the age of 85 has a 15 percent risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The deadliest construction occupations, according to the study, are:

  • Ironworker
  • Power installer
  • Roofer
  • Truck driver
  • Laborer
  • Welder
  • Helper

Death Benefits Available under Workers’ Compensation

A workplace accident which ends the life of a worker can result in both financial and emotional devastation. Missouri workers’ compensation systems offers death benefits to the family who has lost a loved one to a work-related accident.

Eligibility Requirements

There is a 30-day time limit for employers to notify the Division of Workers’ Compensation of an on-the-job death according to Missouri law. The division should then notify the employee’s dependents of their eligibility for death benefits.
In Missouri, a dependent includes:

  • The worker’s spouse
  • The worker’s children under the age of 18
  • The worker’s children between the ages of 18 and 22 if they are full-time students
  • The worker’s children who are mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to earn wages
  • In certain cases, children who have served on military active duty

If there are no total dependents but some individuals were partially dependent, such as an elderly parent, the partial dependent may be eligible for partial death benefits.

Work Compensation Benefits

There are two scenarios in which death benefits may be awarded under Missouri worker compensation law.

  • If the worker died in an on-the-job accident, the surviving dependents are entitled to 66 2/3 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wages up to the maximum amount allowable by law. The employer and insurer are also required to pay $5,000 in funeral expenses.
  • If an employee on permanent partial disability or permanent total disability dies of an unrelated cause, the dependents may be entitled to benefits.

Fighting for the Workers Compensation You Deserve

If you or a love one has been injured while on the job, you may have a claim. Contact the experienced attorneys who handle workers’ compensation law at Keane Law LLC. We will ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve and that your employers are held accountable for the injuries you have endured. Start the process today by calling 1-877-333-8181 for your free consultation.